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Bridges in Folklore

Subject: Blog Posts

Description: Bridges have always attracted myths and legend in this article I explore the bridge in folklore.

Posted by David Caldwell on 22/12/13 at 15:09

“Where do internet trolls live? Under Ethernet bridges”

In prehistory places of water were seen as portals to the underworld.  This is easy to understand as calm water acts like a mirror and creates a reflection of the living world and as above so below.  The Celtic tribes of Europe threw gifts and offerings and sacrificial victims into the waters to appease the ancestors from ceremonial wooden structures crossing the sacred space.

Water was the dwelling place of supernatural creatures such as the dryads and these beliefs persisted in the collective psyche in the form of myths and legends that surround bridges.

The Devil

Legend tells of bridges being built by the devil in return for the first living creature that crosses.  These legends tell of the devil being outwitted by the contractor sending a dog or chicken across instead of a human victim.

The Fairy Bridge

Fairies are often associated with bridges in the Isle of Man locals have to greet the fairies before they cross the Fairy Bridge or meet with calamitous luck.


Trolls originate from Norse folklore they are fierce creatures who live under bridges.  An old legend later adapted as the ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ tells of three goats who want to cross a bridge to green pastures new.  The littlest goat is confronted by a Troll and allowed to pass as his larger brother is fatter and better to eat.  The second goat uses the same argument to pass and the third goat is so big that he tosses the troll off the bridge and into the water never to be seen again.


A Hell Hound

Black Shuck

Shuck is a large black hell hound who haunts parts of England.   Legend often connects him with guarding bridges and seeing him is an omen of death.  Shuck’s howl is said to make blood run cold and it is probable that he originated from Odin’s dog in Norse mythology.


Bridges are often said to be haunted places where apparitions are stuck between two worlds.  It is believed by some that those who have died by falling from the bridge are bound to haunt the place forever more.

Do you have any legends or stories to share?  Please leave a comment below.

Keywords: bridge, bridges, shuck, devil, trolls, goats, fairy, fairies